Collect and Recycle

Disposal levels ‘could increase’ as a result of new Defra waste plan

The Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee (LARAC) has criticised Defra’s Waste Management Plan for England as lacking vision, claiming that waste disposal levels could increase as a result of its implementation, cardboard collections specialist Collect and Recycle (http://www.collectandrecycle.com) reports.

The Committee, which represents 75 per cent of the UK’s local authority recycling officers, declared the document to be a “missed opportunity”, slamming the safe approach of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

July saw the release for consultation of Defra’s Waste Management Plan, which provides an overview of England’s waste management infrastructure and evaluates how support will be given for the proper implementation of the Waste Framework Directive’s (WFD) objectives by government policy. The development of a Waste Management Plan is required under the WFD.

LARAC policy team member Andrew Bird wrote the Committee’s consultation response, signalling its members’ approval of any proposals seeking to improve the quality of UK recycling in addition to, where possible, avoiding the export of material abroad. However, it expressed concern about the risk of a “disjointed” UK-wide approach to waste policy as a result of the “decentralised” approach of leaving interpretation of the WFD to the devolved governments.

The group commented: “LARAC feels that as the plan doesn’t introduce any new measures or policies, on the face of it should not introduce any additional financial burdens for Local Authorities.

“However we feel that the approach across the UK of handing down responsibility for interpretation of the Waste Framework Directive, whilst laudable from a decentralization point has none the less created a confusing and disjointed approach to developing Policies and targets. Evidenced is now emerging in the performance of recycling between England and the other devolved governments of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.”

LARAC also expressed fears that England was seeing largely stagnating recycling rates, with a heightening in the level of disposed-of residual waste being recorded for more than half of local authorities in 2012/13. The knock on effect of such a “new trend” is that waste disposal costs increase for councils at a time when they are already experiencing considerable financial pressure.

The Committee pointed to the absence of any new waste management measures in Defra’s Plan as a sign of a “lack of vision” that could lead to increased waste disposal levels. It said that the waste and recycling industry was a growth area, drawing attention to the forecast 3.1 per cent growth in the Resource and Waste Management sectors, as well as a rise in growth in more specialist waste like WEEE, in the government treasury’s own figures.

LARAC said that there would be numerous benefits of a more challenging plan, including “the circular economy everyone wants to see”, even greater growth in UK recycling and more jobs. It’s certainly an interesting response from a significant waste collections stakeholder, and here at Collect and Recycle (http://www.collectandrecycle.com), we’ll pay close attention to the latest developments relating to Defra’s Plan, as they happen.

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